The Yogi Talks Her Unique Spin on Yoga and How It All Got Started
Written By: Ashlee Polarek
Photographed By: Taso Papadakis
Expert: Sarah Tiefenthaler
Credentials: Creator of YOGAqua
Sarah Tiefenthaler, creator and founder of YOGAqua, the first SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) Yoga class to hit the water, is a master of yoga and more. After receiving her first round of yoga teacher training in 2010 in the jungles of Costa Rica, she hopped on a paddleboard and hasn’t looked back. She’s endorsed by Reebok, who created items specifically for SUP Yoga. She’s been apart of National Geographic’s television show Remote Survival where she had to survive in harsh conditions with only the advice of two experts watching her on a monitor. She teaches yoga all over the world, and still had time to sit down and chat with LOCALE.
Q: When did you know this is what you wanted to do with your life?
Sarah Tiefenthaler: I think I realized the first time I attempted a pose on a paddleboard. I was already training to be a yoga teacher on land, and during this process I somehow discovered paddleboarding. I made a joke about doing a pose on the board, I really wasn’t being serious when I came up with the idea, but I tried it and I guess I knew it was something special. I kept going out week after week developing sequences on the board and customizing poses. So I started putting a business plan together.
Q: What are you most proud of when it comes to your career?
ST: There are so many things I’m proud of. I think what makes me the most proud is when I see people making this a part of their life and their lifestyle. I have students who come out every week who make YOGAqua part of who they are. Seeing friendships formed as well, the people that come out regularly are meeting the other people who come out regularly and they are becoming friends on and off the water. Creating community in this huge city of LA is the most rewarding thing for me.
Q: What is your biggest tip for beginners?
ST: Don’t overthink it. Come ready to have fun. I think people get intimidated when they see the photos we post doing all these crazy poses, but we’re on the water all the time. For beginners, forget all that, come out, be prepared to have fun, don’t expect to do everything perfectly. That’s not what it’s about.
Q: What is your favorite yoga pose?
ST: What I love the most are probably backbends and heart openers where you’re arched back and you have this feeling of letting go. Surrendering to a moment. Poses like wheel pose or bridge poses, where you are really arching back looking up to the sky and letting all your cares go.
Q: What was the most transformative part of your teacher training in Costa Rica?
ST: Before Costa Rica, I was practicing yoga at a local studio, and I was having these really amazing meditative experiences at the end of class. It wasn’t something I was familiar with. It was something I had to study after. At the time, I attributed the feeling and the experience to the studio and the teacher, like it was all thanks to them. But when I stepped away and went to Costa Rica for a month and was meditating every morning, I began to have those same experiences all on my own. It was the moment I realized that I could create this wonderful feeling and meditative experience of bliss. I realized it was me; it was in me.
Q: Where is your favorite shorebased place to get your yoga on?
ST: I really enjoy Yogahop in Santa Monica. It’s just fun. They create the same vibe I do, which is ‘don’t take yourself too seriously.’ They play loud music and everyone is smiling. It’s an intense workout but you’re having a good time. You’re not counting your breaths or chanting, you’re just in the practice.
Q: Where is your favorite place to teach yoga abroad?
ST: I would have to say Whistler in British Columbia. You’re on a perfectly calm lake, surrounded by mountains, and you might see a Bald Eagle fly over your class. It’s just perfectly peaceful, especially first thing in the morning before everyone else arrives. It’s just you and the class listening to the water and the breeze and feeling the sun on your skin.
Q: How would you describe your experience on Remote Survival?
ST: It’s funny, my guide all throughout that was trying to get a rise out of me and he never could. Even when it was hard, even when it hurt, even when I was desperate for water I just went along with it and I think that bugged him. I think having this job and lifestyle kept me calm.
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Ever Tried Yoga on a Paddleboard? If Not, You’re Missing Out